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Colorado Speaker of the House Unable to Promise Any Spending Assurances Should Voters Approve Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Refund Repeal
Speaker K.C. Becker admits in House Finance Committee debate that permanently ending TABOR refunds would leave no safeguards as to where taxpayer money would be allocated
DENVER, April 9, 2019 – Last week, Colorado Speaker of the House K.C. Becker (D-Boulder) admitted that no assurances could be made as to how the state government could spend taxpayer money in the event that Coloradans vote to permanently forego receiving refund checks as currently codified by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. Below are Speaker Becker’s comments during an exchange with Republican lawmaker Susan Beckman at a House Finance Committee hearing to discuss House Bills 1257 and 1258:
Rep. Beckman: Madam Chair, that is helpful. So, there isn’t a companion piece because you had Referendum C and Referendum D. And Referendum D didn’t pass, so the money that was going to (be) allocated to transportation, you know, it didn’t get bonded. So, on this (legislation), is the formula that is here going to be locked into the ballot question as it goes forward and forevermore?
Speaker Becker: Thank you, Madam Chair. Um, as you know, Representative Beckman, one legislature can’t bind future legislators, so I don’t know what’s going to happen forevermore. And any change that is statutory, whether voters approve it or not, can always be changed by the legislature because the legislature always has the authority to change statutes.
“Colorado Democrats are laying the foundation to trick voters into giving the legislature a blank check attached to our bank accounts as well as giving up our right to vote in the future,” said Independence Institute Executive Vice President Amy Oliver Cooke. “That won’t play well with voters who overwhelming support our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.”
“Our state budget is going up by $1 billion again this year, but that’s not enough for some legislators,” said Michael Fields, coalition member and Executive Director of Colorado Rising Action. “The reason the last 6 statewide tax hikes were defeated is because voters want the legislature to prioritize the existing budget. Setting up a new slush fund with our TABOR refunds is definitely not the solution Coloradans are looking for.”
“There’s no guarantees when it comes to HB1257 and HB1258. The only guarantee is that taxpayers will lose their TABOR refunds and government spending will increase,” said Jesse Mallory, State Director for Americans for Prosperity-Colorado. “One legislature cannot bind future legislators to spend the money a specific way, so once the money comes in, they can spend it any way they like. These proposals are bad for Colorado taxpayers.”
“The beauty of our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is its simplicity, as all that a tax increase requires to go into effect is voter consent,” added Laura Carno, Director of SpringsTaxpayers.com. “TABOR refunds are, by definition, a refund of taxpayers’ having overpaid into our already-bloated state government. Speaker Becker and the Boulder Democrats in charge at the Capitol are going to ask voters not only to raise taxes, but to permanently relinquish tax dollars that they never owed the government in the first place.”
“As 71% of Colorado voters support our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights as defined in the State Constitution, Speaker Becker and her colleagues are seeking instead to create an end-around, not just in never returning taxpayers’ hard-earned money, but then literally spending it however they want,” said Cooke. “That kind of unchecked government power is the opposite of what TABOR intends, and it is the opposite of good governance. If the legislature passes these measures, voters should blast the pursuant ballot measure into orbit.”
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